I am officially two weeks post-chemo and most of the nasty side effects have started to subside. As I was lying in bed last night, I got to thinking about how different chemo was from what I expected.
Way back when this all started, my surgeon, Dr. George, told me that most of the women he spoke with after finishing treatment, told him that chemotherapy was the worst part. At first I laughed, thinking to myself... "of course you are going to tell me it's not THAT bad, you are about to freaking slice off my breast". However, as of right now, I have to say he was correct. Don't get me wrong... having your breast removed is both physically AND emotionally traumatic, and the recovery is long and painful (remember they removed tissue way up into my underarm), but it was nothing compared to chemo.
In addition, I think the isolation that I've experience over the last 4+ months, has only served to worsen an already bad chemo experience. Not having a job (to occupy the mind) and having no friends living within 2 hours of you, makes life... well, dull and dreary. Especially for someone who likes to travel and keep busy.
The fact that Adam can't come to Canada to work and be with me, makes matters worse. Big thanks goes out to immigration and the Government of Canada for that!
I mean, the jerks make it nearly impossible to get a skilled workers visa, AND won't even give citizens of the U.S.A. a holiday working visa (but will to literally 20 other countries!). What the hell?!
Anyway, on to the point of this blog :)
In order to convey the differences between what I had expected, and what actually happened during chemo treatments, I've made two lists.
Here they are:
What I expected-
-nausea (this was pretty much a given, everyone knows about it)
-lowered immune functioning
-loss of appetite
-metallic taste in mouth (I only had it once, thank goodness)
-muscle and joint pain (from taxotere)
-chemo brain (yes, it is real... as much as I didn't want to admit it)
What I did not expect-
-50 self-injections of Neupogen to increase white blood cell proliferation (counteract decreased immune functioning)
-change in appearance (dark circles around eyes, horrible skin)
-bloody noses (only after taxotere treatments)
-runny roses and watering eyes (taxotere)
-heartburn (possibly from chemo or 1 of the many side effect reducing medications)
-painful skin (any sort of tactile stimuli felt like poking a bruise, lasted 1-2 weeks post-chemo)
-rash on hands and face
-tingling in feet
-finger nail sensitivity
-mystery bruising (usually on legs)
-sensitivity to light/sound
-swelling of taste buds resulting in extreme sensitivity
-thick coating on tongue and cheeks (lasting over 1 week post-chemo)
-food tasting awful(from above side effect)
-fatigue (to the point where the 1km car ride uptown resulted in a nap)
-6+ trips to the hospital resulting in 2 hospitalizations and/or more antibiotics
-overwhelming feelings of hopelessness, depression, and jealousy.
Now, although not among my prouder moments, I do admit that I had moments of extreme jealousy. Being holed up in a house (so as to avoid infections... or due to a variety of side effects), while other people your age are living their lives, going out with friends and having a wonderful time, can hardly be said to cultivate friendly feelings. As I said, I'm not proud of it, but I definitely had moments where I had a strong dislike for pretty much everyone. So... my apologies. I'm thanking my lucky stars it's over.
On a positive note, here are three good things!
1) I'm heading up to my cottage tomorrow, after my consult with the radiation oncologist.
2)I've also decided that I will be making the trip to D.C. in June :)
3) I took my I.V. out on Monday. Yes, I literally pulled it out myself. After lugging that darn thing around for a week, it is a welcome change.